Tiger Woods is playing golf for the first time since he withdrew from the Masters right now down at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. And we don’t want to overreact but … holy smokes, does he look good. At 47 years-old and sporting various bionic parts — ankle, back, leg — Woods strode to the first tee and blasted the longest drive of the tournament to that point, 326 yards right in the juicy part of the fairway.
Woods slid a 13-foot birdie opportunity to the left once he reached the green. On the next hole, a par-3, he found the bunker and faced a nine-footer to save par, which he drained. His first birdie came on No. 3 when he one-putted again.
After bogeying No. 4 he came blazing back with another bird to get back under par as his flat stick stayed hot.
With all responsible caveats issued, it doesn’t feel completely insane to say that this version of Woods looks, unscientifically, seven million times better than the one that was limping and gritting his teeth through every tournament he played pre- his latest surgery. That alone is something to celebrate. Because honestly there was no guarantee that we’d ever see him this healthy ever again.
What does it mean? Well, likely nothing. He still has 67 holes to play this weekend and we’ll have to see how his body holds up. It’s impossible to be too confident a pesky physical ding isn’t going to rear its ugly head. But good Lord is it fun to watch him play like this, even for an hour a year. It’s not an overreaction to say he looks like a completely different player out there. Like he might actually be enjoying the round instead of enduring it.
These are baby steps on his latest incredible comeback story. We admit that. Yet they look so much easier to take that it’s okay to get excited about the idea of him hanging around the top of a leaderboard at some point this coming season. If he appears this capable now, it stands to reason it’ll look even better in four-plus months when he lands in Augusta.